Arts Desk

Yells & Mumbles: D.C.’s Short-Lived Hollywood Tourism Bump

The decline in visitors, especially at the National Air and Space Museum, officials said, could be attributed to the leveling off of visitors who were enticed by the 2009 movie, “Night at the Museum- Battle of the Smithsonian.”

Washington Post yesterday, on a 2 percent decline in Smithsonian attendance.

Believe it or not, history bears out this pattern of pop-cultural memory loss. For example:

  • Two years after it figured into the plot of the Kevin Costner thriller No Way Out, the Georgetown Metro stop saw a 31 percent dip in card swipes.
  • In the third year after the release of Independence Day, only 3 percent of tourists asked Park Police when the federal government had rebuilt the White House.
  • A year after the theatrical run of Being There, faith in the intelligence of the political elite inched back up to zombie-like levels.
  • It hasn't even been a year since Robert Redford's Reconstruction-era courtroom drama The Conspirator, but epic sideburns are out in 2012.
  • Only six months after the DVD release of National Treasure, requests from amateur cryptologists to join the Library of Congress plummeted 94 percent.
  • The 1993 film Dave starred Kevin Kline as a presidential impersonator who balances the budget. By 1996, 78 percent of Oval Office impostors had filed for bankruptcy.
  • Once the Coen Bros.' Burn After Reading failed to secure any Oscar nominations, local hairdressers reported a precipitous drop in requests for Brad Pitt's highlights.
  • While for many years following the 1983 cult classic D.C. Cab, local taxi drivers were hailed as urban heroes, these days they are merely hailed.

In contrast, we found just two outliers:

  • It's been slightly more than a year since he crashed into an MPD vehicle while Transformers 3 filmed on location in downtown D.C., but Bumblebee has still not returned to the District.
  • Immediately following the release of the misguided James L. Brooks comedy How Do You Know, regional tourism dropped 100 percent. It has not recovered.
Additional research by Benjamin R. Freed and Brandon Wetherbee
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